The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Books – Something – Profit!

Posted by BigWords on April 11, 2016

An obvious question people are likely asking:

How do you know that what you are doing is different to everyone else?

Which is extremely easy – and yet tiresome – to answer. There’s thousands of indie publishers when you take into account the self-published and the niche publishers, but none (so far) have been set up in a way which embraces the promotion of books irrespective of the publisher. The main goal of That Which Will Be is to celebrate the rich diversity of books currently available.

The ways a person can promote a book on their own is going to be limited by a number of factors:

  • A knowledge of blogs/websites which review books.
  • Ability to present ideas in concise and clear text.
  • Ability to parse the subtleties of a forum or chat-room.
  • Access to websites which require paid access.
  • Access to websites which restrict membership.
  • Ability to network outside key areas of interest.

There are a bunch of other things which come into play, especially when you take into account foreign languages, paywalls, regular internet access, health, income and so on. As a catch-all for the big problems, we can see straight-off that some of the problems which restrict the dissemination of information about a title might be self-inflicted (however involuntarily), so by acting as a promoter I can try and get eyes on titles without authors pissing off people who don’t want to be given the hard-sell.

I’ll admit that there’s a lot of work involved in this aspect of things, and it is early days as far as the requirements go. I have small chunks of the overall layout and reach calculated, along with an estimate of how much work it is going to take. It turns out, amazingly, that the numbers aren’t so bad. In fact, it makes more sense to heavily promote my “competition” than it does attempting to maintain an increasingly irrelevant isolationist ideology.

That’s one aspect that I have been providing people with when asked about why they should join in this little adventure. What I haven’t explained is the extent of the advertising. See, there is only so much that a single website or blog can do, and that – in a nutshell – is the notion which is going to shake things up. This isn’t just a business plan, but a philosophy which is for the benefit of writers, readers and small publishers.

But… It isn’t entirely about that.

Whenever there’s a new idea, it needs time to settle in to a form – the standardized  version which has been tested and stressed, which has had the rough edges sanded off for a better user experience. I have a fairly solid grasp on how to roll out the wider application of the concept, and ways to prevent the blatant abuse of same. As I have pointed out – plenty of time to figure things out and examine the repercussions.

There is one thing which has remained constant. Throughout the process of putting writers, designers, programmers, musicians, and other talented people together, there has been a focus on shared benefits. See, it never made sense to my why people disliked the notion of having books adapted into games (Dune, especially, comes in for a degree of criticism in certain circles), or having albums written about characters, or other possibly interesting avenues.

Part of the reason I am offline is this – because the idea will draw out the freakshow crowd who are going to attack everything, and because I don’t want to draw the same freakshows to any of the places I hang out. There is enough to deal with at the moment without having to sort through all the additional crap which can be so easily avoided simply by refusing to make myself a target.

And there’s an addendum to the notion of everyone grouping together. See, I’m drip-feeding you the information for a reason… Should I go all-out and fill in details, the folks who see change – any change – as a threat, and who go out of their way to maintain a status quo… Those people are gonna go batshit. The implications have probably already hit them. As these words sink in, the realization of what I am promoting is likely forming in the brains of everyone else.

The sliding scale.
I want you to consider it.

How many indie titles are out there? Each blog and website deep into promoting works which profit them. Think about the individual push each title gets, and imagine if – even for a moment – the collective might of the self-publishing community working together on a single title… Everyone throwing their weight behind a title in the knowledge that their turn will come and the internet will fill with ads for their novels.

I told you my ideas were scary.

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The Thing I Can’t Talk About

Posted by BigWords on April 6, 2016

Towards the end of the month, in a shade over two weeks from now, there’s going to be an announcement which goes a little towards explaining exactly why I have trekked halfway across the UK to get internet access, but right now, sitting the wrong side of the official kick-off, I can’t go into any details on what is going on. The plan, as it was, began with a request to jump in with an established group doing… well, that part is hugely complex.

The skinny on why I went in a different direction, and joined with the folks I am currently producing words for, is that the other options all required things I didn’t have easy access to. Or any access to. The option of doing what I wanted, rather than conforming to other requirements, was too strong an enticement, and – the important part – I was getting to bring a lot of my work to the table. I have a lot of material which has never been seen in any way, ranging as far back as scripts from the 90s. There’s plenty to play with.

There’s many things which I am changing in the process of making material which can sell easily – some essays are being repurposed into fiction, a television proposal for a sitcom is being heavily altered, and I’m having to get used to the idea that the lack of equipment can be as much of a push towards solutions as it is a pain in the ass. It won’t stop me complaining abut ancient software and terrible hardware, but if all goes well I will be able to upgrade when the money starts coming in again.

The only way that the Thing I Can’t Talk About is having any effect on my day-to-day life is the time everything is taking. I had planned out a lot more I wanted to do before things got close to the announcement, but there’s a hundred and one things which need immediate attention (and I am on point all the time, apparently). I haven’t done this much design work or editing in years. I’ve even been doing small amounts of CGI in aid of moving projects forward, which – on a computer over six years old – isn’t the most relaxing activity.

It also means I can’t take on any other work while things are so busy. Which kinda sucks when I’m mostly in this gig for the green. I still haven’t seen anything which is meant to come out in the first wave of material, but it should be fine given the nature of the folks who I’m dealing with. Anything that sucks? Hell, I can take the blame for anything which isn’t polished and shiny – as long as there isn’t any throwing of vegetables and fruit, which I don’t approve of. Throw candy my direction instead.

As soon as I get info, I’ll link it here.

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Writers & Readers On YouTube

Posted by BigWords on April 12, 2012

This is a quick note for self-published and small press authors who have videos up on YouTube – if your video has had a content match, please pass on the information either in the comments section below, or by e-mail (bigwords88writing@gmail.com). I especially want to hear about content mismatches where the decision has gone against you. From book bloggers (or, if you prefer, vloggers), also, I am looking for anyone who has run afoul of the Content ID system.

I’ll be posting about this soon, and I need as much first-hand information as possible.

Oh, and you really should tell me when these types of things are impacting on peoples’ copyright.

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Random Thoughts

Posted by BigWords on April 7, 2012

Both Scalzi and Cat Valente have written, of late, about the trend for female writers to get more abuse online than male writers (for women in general to get more hate mail and death threats, if everything is taken into consideration) – but why is this? I’ll level with you here… I’ve never been able to understand the automatic and extreme comments based solely on gender. It isn’t that I refuse to understand the rampant sexism, nor is it that I am intentionally being obstinate when it comes to sexual politics in the digital era, it is that threatening someone with rape and murder is something which is abhorrent and unjustifiable no matter the means by which the comment is made – in person it would be considered a death threat, on the internet it is considered business as usual.

And people wonder why my fiction is filled with horrible characters doing nasty things?

So my view of humanity may, on the whole, be less optimistic than Thomas Hobbes. Don’t all rush to point out the brief hope spots the acts of individuals have given us, as that is missing the big picture. Individuals can be good, but groups (seen explicitly in riots) are rather moronic. Get a large enough gathering of people in one place (comic conventions being, by and large, the exception to the rule – though even there…) and sooner or later there will be some kind of incident. I’m probably jaded by years of reading about the various acts of unimaginable horror humanity has committed, but the feeling that it is encoded in our genes somewhere refuses to shake off.

The most enlightening part of this whole debate isn’t the fact that women are being openly persecuted by men (with, presumably, very small penises, a mother fixation, and a collection of small shoes in their basement), but the incident which kicked off this exceptional openness – Christopher Priest’s reaction to an awards nomination list.

Seriously?

I mean… Seriously?

Awards are only important for a very brief time. That time is not when the nominees are announced. Nor is it important after the award has been given. Any awards ceremony has a lifespan of importance which spans hours, sometimes much shorter spans of time. On an individual level, that may increase exponentially in relation to achievement, but I really don’t care. I’m not going to rush out to buy a book just because it has been placed on something which roughly equates to a “best of” list, and I don’t tend to get titles which have “winner of” strap lines above the title. Note, please, that I have bought books which display such markings, though they were on my list of books to read regardless of irrelevancies such as awards and prizes. Merely being named a good read isn’t enough to convince me to buy a title, and Christopher Priest – a writer who has many excellent titles under his belt – shouldn’t be worrying too much about the absence of his favorite writers from any nominee list.

The uproar about the reaction to an award list is something which confuses me as much as the gender-based commenting policies of those knuckle-draggers Cat was describing in her blog. Because my view of awards is so low, there are only two I really pay the slightest bit of attention to any more – the Eagle Awards (which always highlights at least one title I should be reading), the Hugo Awards – though I don’t tend to read anything until two to three years after being brought to my attention. The main issue with literary prizes is that there are so damn many of the things that each new award is a dilution of the importance of all the rest, with the result that they are almost as important as the announcement of a new Uwe Boll film.

Maybe less important, as Uwe Boll films afford me the luxury of guilt-free mockery.

Actually, awards may serve the same function for some.

In any event, mark me down as unimpressed and rather bemused. There’s a stack of novels I’ve been diligently working my way through for the better part of a decade, and I am only a fraction of the way through the output of numerous important titles.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the only acceptable thing to say upon winning an award is this: “About bloody time.” The cloying, saccharine-sweet bullshit where people thank their parents, their agent, God, the voices in their head, and the plot-by-post service of their choice, is almost as bad as sending a Native American up to receive the award in a blatantly showboating move. Go check that debacle out on YouTube if you haven’t already seen it…

And because it bears repeating, here’s J. Michael Straczynski talking about women:

…I like really strong females in real life. I enjoy being challenged, one-upped and outsmarted by really clever, strong, independent women. I delight in it. I cherish it.

And another thing: A Song Of Ice And Fire isn’t half as good as people on the interwebs would have you believe…

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Scumbag Of The Week: Jason Peterson

Posted by BigWords on April 2, 2012

Just a quick heads-up for people who should be aware of things going on in the interwebs.

 

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Some More Thoughts On Marketing

Posted by BigWords on January 29, 2011

So it is probably time to give meaning and structure to the contents of the last post, having taunted and tormented you with it long enough. The idea was really quite simple, though I never expected such a large bump in stats. Jeez guys, it isn’t that people need to hear the same shit regurgitated a thousand different ways, but in my brief examination of the whole “make money online” nonsense, I have found a bewildering lack of thought and foresight. Of the handful of books I flipped through in preparation for this little thought-experiment, the same dull, tired and unimaginative information is disseminated time and time again. I’ll save you a bunch of money (and a whole lot of time) by distilling the contents of most of these books, blogs and articles into one easy-to-understand sentence –

Put links up everywhere and hope people will click them.

Um… No. Really, no. This is the equivalent of the kid shouting “Hey mom, lookit me. Lookit what I did. I set my head on fire, mom. Lookit me. I’m gonna be famous on YouTube. Aaargh. My head. Aaaaarghhh.” It has the same aura of desperation and unoriginality which flows from the pores of people who let camera crews follow them around as they go about their day to day business, and just because the ploy worked for Ozzie Osbourne does not hold that people want to see other former stars do the same. It’s the fat guy in the cowboy hat, sweating profusely as he hawks used cars, talking faster in the hopes that the heart attack he had before going on air doesn’t fully hit until his paid minutes are up. If the notion that links alone are the solution to everyone’s money problems, then things are much worse than I thought in online marketing.

This approach is so wrong in so many ways that it is difficult to know where to begin. I find it incredible that people are still writing about the way marketing was done in the late nineties, and that people are still buying into this crap is even more worrying. The only thing accomplished by providing countless links to one single page (for there is always a nexus point people are pushed to in traditional marketing) is to give people the opportunity to purchase an item. It’s a one-shot deal. It’s a quick fuck up a side alley, which both parties will think no more of come the morning. And the kicker? People don’t learn anything from this technique.

Before you start complaining that I’m being too dismissive of putting links into every forum post, blog comment and tweet, I’ll lay out some simple facts for you to ruminate over. A sale – specifically a download – does not guarantee that people will bother to read / listen / watch the download. It’s not the only problem you will face if you’re looking at marketing as an attractive money-making opportunity, but it is the big one – if the people who have purchased from a link once don’t follow through by enjoying the download, what is there to bring them back? The old methods of shouting attractions out to a largely disinterested audience have been replaced by infinitely more complex interactions by salesmen and “audience” (for they are such), people advertising wares must change their behavior also.

The role of marketing is NOT to sell things. Selling things is a by-product of advertising, but it is not the primary reason to advertise. The true role of marketing is to change the perception of those who are being advertised to. The main objective is to build a base of customers who will return again and again to buy more things, and this is the reason links are pointless. I can’t state this enough, because the pervasive attitude of the books on the subject are so far from the mark that they give a false impression of human psychology. We aren’t wired up in a way which looking at meaningless links will affect in any meaningful way.

How often have you heard people say they record television shows so that they can skip the adverts?

We remember things by context and narrative, so by engaging in a discussion with people, marketers stand to have a much better impact. The way that such a discussion can be created – to create a relationship with consumers which might last longer than that one solitary purchase – is not in the realms of brain surgery. I’m talking about some really simple and interesting things here. It doesn’t have to be of the scale nor complexity of a massive ARG, and it really doesn’t have to take a year to plan. A little fun and experimentation can go a very long way, and I’ll go one further than that- if the first link on a Google search is the link to the product, I’m gonna buy it, and then forget to check out the rest of the links.

By providing a little difficulty into the process of getting something, and by making me work for the thing I am looking for, I am forced to read about it further, and (hopefully, if you have done your job right) get more enthusiastic about the process of getting my hands on it. This increases my odds of actually reading / listening / watching the damn thing, so it is in people’s best interest to have the point of sale lower in Google rankings than the material which discusses the product. It’s part of that long-term relationship-building which will lead to interest in future material from the same source. There’s no secret to getting people returning time and time again. Oh wait… I haven’t explained the image yet, have I?

A minor confession here – the pic won’t help you. Much like the rest of the information online about marketing, which panders to instant gratification and completely ignores any long-term strategies for the extended shelf life of the product, it is a phantom. It’s Keyser Sozer. The truth of the central phrase (in clear English) is all about the interaction with whoever is looking at it. It sells itself as a path to something, and that is precisely what this post is all about. I’ve been here before, and I still hold that people aren’t trying hard enough to keep people coming back to them time and time again, because serious and prolonged investment in propagating the image of a product (more than “Hey, click the link dude”) is the most important part of any enterprise. Also, by drip-feeding information and making people follow a trail of crumbs to the product, which is a way to have a conversation with purchasers, the mess of links which are clogging up sites will soon dwindle.

This is about being smart, as much as it is about being visible. This visibility, so lauded by mediocre hands, has made many products anathema to me. I have no idea what Covonia (or however it is spelled) is, but because of the prevalence of the adverts, I now have no interest in ever purchasing it. I hate those adverts. Being very visible can HARM you.

“Hey mom, lookit me. Lookit what I did. I set my head on fire, mom.”

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Is It Really That Big? Damn. Yes, It Is.

Posted by BigWords on December 18, 2009

I’m a moron. There, I said it… I got discouraged after a positively horrible shopping experience, so I turned to the internet. The internet, as everyone knows, never lies or misrepresents things, so you have a much better chance of getting to the truth than if you trust television, newspapers, friends, relatives or shopping catalogues – all of which routinely screw with the truth in ways that a politician would be proud of. The internet is a dear old friend, who advises and consoles, who encourages and assists – and, just to make the universe just a little bit more interesting, sometimes makes things appear larger or smaller than they really are.

There’s a problem with images online – nobody thinks to take photographs of items in context, so pictures of a 19″ television and a 48″ television, side by side, can appear to be the same size. This, if you hadn’t guessed, is where my brain puts one and one together to make five. And before I know what is happening, I’m sitting in front of largest television I’ve ever owned, wondering how the fuck I managed to spend so much money, and…

Aw, hell. Just take a look for yourselves. This is the box it came in:

Jeez. It’s massive. It’s also gonna keep me making repayments for another decade or so, but what the fuck… It’s big, and that is all that matters, right? Chicks might tell ya that size doesn’t matter, but I know different. Now all I have to do is make some space for it.

So, for those of you who like the technical definitions:

32″ / 82cm pixel plus HD-ready 1366 x 768p LCD screen
3 HDMI inputs, USB connection, and DVB-T/C for digital

I have to admit this right now, because I don’t think it’s fair keeping the whole truth back – I didn’t realize how big 32″ was. Seriously, I had no idea the size of this thing until it arrived. Which, in a weird kinda way, made opening the box all the more exciting. I had expected something a bit smaller, but the credit card payment had already gone through, and I don’t want to send it back just because I can’t tell the difference between a medium television and a gigantic one.

Shoot me now…

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NaNoWriMo Word Count Verification Blues

Posted by BigWords on November 25, 2009

If you head over to my NaNo user page you will notice that I have uploaded my novel for word verification already. There is a massive back story to such a simple act as uploading the novel, so I thought I’d treat you to a missive on how things which seem easy can turn out to be a massive nightmare of complications, alterations and attempts at tricking my web ‘n’ walk stick into letting me perform such a relatively straightforward action. I figure that this might come in useful for anyone else having difficulties uploading their material, so I’ll share my method of getting around the problem of constricted web activity.

This is not a rant, before you start up on me… This is merely me venting some frustration. There is a difference.

So… three o’clock in the morning, and I’m thinking that I really ought to make sure I remember to verify, because it would be a fucking disaster if I went through all this and neglected to actually put my novel through the NaNo word counter. Fine, I think, no time like the present to be getting the paperwork out of the way. The bit on the ‘My NaNoWriMo‘ page is easy to find, so there is one hurdle down. I stitch all of the pieces together in OpenOffice and save the completed material as an RTF file. I open the file up in Wordpad and copy the text into the box on the webpage and hit the button to send.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And the fucking useless web stick dies on me. I hit the refresh button and wait once more. Same thing happens again. My heart is pounding in my chest, the li’l vein on my forehead pounding away, a thousand profanities pouring forth from my lips as I try to work out what the hell is going on. The stick, it turns out, is using too much bandwidth… Or something. It cuts out after about half the material is sent, meaning that I get a white page which has failed to load in Firefox. Fine, I try to get the information down to a manageable level.

This means going through the text and taking out every… single… blank… line. It takes forever, but I finish up, save the document, copy it into the wordbox and try again.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

And guess what? Same shit, same problem. The web stick doesn’t like me this morning, so I have to find a way to get the material down even further. This is where I get creative, and start using Find & Replace to squeeze every single word down. I change every use of “Talos” to “Tal”, “robot” becomes “bot” and “the” is squeezed to “t” in an effort to minimize size. I go through the text, quickly swapping out every word longer than five characters long for something smaller. It ain’t pretty, but at least it’s gonna go through to NaNoWriMo.

But it doesn’t. At this point I open the RTF and save it as a TXT, hoping to shrink the information by way of magic and belief in the digital gods. It’s right about this point that I’m wishing I had some grass in the house so I could chill myself out a little, the nerves and fear of failure pounding at my brain like a demented midget from hell. Again I try uploading the material, fingers crossed for the trickery to work on the damnable stick.

And I wait. And I wait. And I wait.

The familiar white screen pops up on Firefox again. This is the point I really lost my cool, and the thoughts running through my head really, honestly don’t need o be spelled out here. I get myself in enough trouble without threatening the health and safety of whatever moron was in charge of coding the Bytemobile Optimization Client in the toolbar, which turns red at the slightest provocation. With little option, I switch off the web ‘n’ walk screen, run Crap Cleaner, defrag, clear my internet cache and bring the web n’ walk back up again.

By this time the text is all but unreadable anyway, so I figure I may as well add to my chance of success by pruning a few thousand words from the end of the document to get it even further down to a “reasonable” size. I save the file, copy its’ contents, close Notepad (which has taken over from Wordpad in my haste to shrink size) and paste it in the wordbox at NaNo.

Take a stab in the dark here. What do you think happened?

Damnable, fucking useless piece of outdated shit, pretending to be a bloody internet connector…The pile of cigarette stubs next to me has grown by a count of ten in the three hours I have been messing around with the document, and I still had more pruning to do before it accepted the text, but I did it. I got my winners page up on screen. I also have a rasping sore throat, a headache and a temper that would make even Old Nick himself think twice before fucking with me, but I managed to get everything working.

The wordcount (on NaNoWriMo) stands at 135,750.
The wordcount (unbutchered) stands at 196,942.

I haven’t hit my goal of 250,000, but – considering the obstacles the universe likes throwing in my direction – I’m lucky to have gotten this far.

There ya go. The best advert for getting broadband access you’ll ever read.

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The Future Is What You Make It

Posted by BigWords on October 29, 2009

Some of the strange notions that pop into my head can be disregarded as meanderings, but when I happened to mention a super-internet idea to a friend (the concept of which is really hard to explain here, but I’ll try) there were some aspects I had to concede were good. Maybe not to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but to me they seemed a sensible way forward once the kinks could be worked out. It is, of course, gonna play into my NaNo novel, but the idea of creating a customizable and completely interchangeable internet experience needs expounding…

How many social networking platforms are out there? Too many. In the future of my NaNo there will be an identity card style homepage for everyone, where they can use whatever they want to share with the world. Compatibility issues will be a thing of the past, and the entire internet will be one large social networking scene that has multiple sub-categories for individual likes and dislikes. Into comics? There will be a check button to join that category. Into films? Yeah, check button. Into mind-altering substances? You guessed it, another check-button…

Forums, which I kinda have an addiction to joining – and spend all night surfing for great threads to haunt – should be one area which future software can really improve on. I like a lot of forums the way they are, with maybe the exception of really slow ones like the NaNo set-up. A meta-forum, where millions of different forums (yeah, I’m not using fora here, just ’cause) will merge into a single entity would be great for hot discussions. Threads splitting and merging and splitting again as the number of commenters adding their voices increases…

A person would never have to join another forum again. Join one, and you join them all. A geek’s dream come true.

E-mail, which has been getting tweaks and nudges ever since its’ creation, would – I am certain – be replaced by an IM / SMS-type communication between individuals. When processing power has achieved the ability to create real-time VR, which is quite a few years off even yet, we will have avatars speaking for us in voice communication so real that it would appear animals could talk. This is something I really want, even though I know I’ll probably never live to see the concept realized… Damn limited human longevity we currently have to accept.

If bleeding-edge technology lives up to the promises of various experts, we will see a rise in e-commerce that will make even the largest internet companies of the modern world seem like fly-by-night operators. Hundreds of billions of transactions made every minute, with exponential growth thanks to a subservient robot workforce that can load in new software to accomplish even the most complex of tasks. This will, naturally, see the end of shopping centres as a place to buy product, but it might just reestablish the locations as a place to congregate with friends. I’ve never been one to believe that a completely digital existence will ever come to pass.

I’m still undecided on cybernetics as a point I should bring up in my novel, because the issues which arise from medical procedures to augment human bodies is one which has been covered to thoroughly – and so well – elsewhere. William Gibson is the standard SF text for that kind of thing and, along with Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, is in no need of a reheated and half-hearted answer from myself. There may be minor allusions to the procedures available, but the more I think on the things which would need to be addressed the more I worry. It’s not enough to parrot accepted ideas… My story has to go somewhere new.

The one area I will be completely avoiding, due to the terribly complex and ever-shifting debate on, is the file-sharing one. Never have so many intelligent people been involved in an argument with so many half-assed assumptions in the history of the internet. I can’t even begin to explain why some of the utterances made my music chiefs are so stupid, because every time I begin to make a balanced argument for file sharing they decide to change their objections… “We’re losing money,” (no, you really aren’t) “It’s immoral,” (and the music industry is?) “File-sharing is evil,” (and music producers are all saints?)…

Added to the confusion which exists about copyright, and you have an impossible task wrapping a fiction around the subject which is less stupid and unbelievable than the truth.

You will, of course, be able to see whether I have managed to think this concept of a super-internet through thoroughly enough when November rolls around. Ye gads, two and a bit days to go… I’m gonna have to sit down and really think about the opening scenes if I have any hope of sounding at least semi-coherent. Time has flown by so quickly that I haven’t even managed to begin working out where some of the jokes and references I want to use can be dropped in…

I may just pop over to Microsoft to talk with someone about setting the internet to rights after November… I kinda like the idea of putting Facebook out of business.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Real Life Still Isn’t Represented In Media

Posted by BigWords on October 26, 2009

People are so varied that sometimes, just when you least expect it, an individual will emerge from an unlikely and obscure place and their story will take on a life of its’ own. There are the bona-fide experts on subjects who make ridiculous statements with all the seriousness they can muster, and some – Edward De Bono – are even taken seriously by people who should know better. There are the bored code-monkeys who discovered how to make money from thin air, kids who fool the world with balloon-related pranks, and actors jumping up and down on Oprah’s sofa.

Great way to prove you ain’t gay, Tom…

Oh the joys of seeing the things that go on. If I tried to write a novel which encompassed the absurdities of life, and kept strictly to things which have actually occurred, it would be laughed out of town as unbelievable. Life is complicated, and sexy, and hilarious, and ridiculous, and disgusting, and horrifying… Simplifications of what our existence amounts to in fiction makes reality even more ridiculous when viewed through sober eyes and a clear mind.

It’s hard to put down on paper (or type, as I do) fiction that contains just enough absurdity to reflect reality, but doesn’t fall into unbelievability. I still haven’t worked out if I should try to explain why people are so wrong when they claim that some fiction is like life ripped from reality and pasted on the page. Does it matter that such a feat is impossible? The ailments, observations, minutia, boring bits, slapstick and bowel movements of the average person (though such an individual arguably does not exist) cannot be captured on paper without some degree of editing.

“Literary” still has some growing up to do before I take it seriously.

Any ‘reality’ is a skewed one when put on paper. The digital superhighway – such a stupid term, but a useful way of comparing the internet to a neverending traffic jam – is filled with supposedly ‘real’ moments in private lives. I’ve got no time for moronic “Lookit me, I’m setting my head on fire” videos, and even less time for ten-minute-long videos of people bemoaning their pathetic existence. It isn’t real, because the artifice of display gets in-between the truth and the viewer. Big Brother, whilst listed as a ‘reality show’ is merely the end result of focus groups and sadistic producers. No reality involved.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and websites this past week which seem inclined to accept stories in newspapers at face value. The habit certain individuals have gotten into, of merely saying whatever in the news interests them, is a bad one. I’m tempted to start linking to these blogs and taking apart the news they hold dear, but I really don’t want to re-read their take on the news. Which is, as any intelligent person can see from the cover of a newspaper, nearly always skewed and distorted by reporters and editors.

One of the funniest things about British news is the insistence that half-naked women are of urgent importance and news worthiness. No. Sorry, but I’m not impressed. It’s trifling and irrelevant scum journalism which borders on the stalker-ish. Two-page spreads on forthcoming television shows? Hackery of the worst kind. Giveaways? That’s a sure way to increase readership, especially when a national tabloid decides that cartoon DVDs will boost readership. Can I say “The Sun / Daily Star / Daily Record was grooming children” without a lawsuit? Fuck yeah. Try and stop me.

Only when all barriers between subject and audience has been removed will reality be represented in anything other than a superficial and meaningless way, and we ought to start taking what we see, hear and read with a pinch of salt. It is especially important that people come to realize that Hollywood – that legendary vile den of iniquity – shoulders a fair proportion of the blame for ills which are now, sadly, all too common. Anorexia? Thank the airbrushed posters of skeletal good-for-nothings celebrities.

The rise in breast implants? Posters of Keira Knightley with massive tits ain’t fooling anyone. I’m shocked that people believe the ‘perfect people’ are free of cellulite, blemishes and zits; elevated individuals who have never experienced the delights of either diarrhea nor broken noses… It’s dangerous portrayals of ‘the body beautiful’ which infect minds and begin the slow descent into self-awareness in teenagers. And younger. Can’t we, as a species, accept that we’re fed so much bullshit from the media?

Yeesh, that’s a rant and a half… I’m stopping before I upset anyone else. If I’ve missed any targets, please let me know who to lay into next.

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